Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be defined as pain that is off and on and lasts for 3–6 months or longer. Many things cause chronic pain, which can make it difficult to make a diagnosis. There are many treatment options available for chronic pain. However, finding a treatment that works well for you may require trying various approaches until the right one is found. Many people benefit from a combination of two or more types of treatment to control their pain.

SYMPTOMS

Chronic pain can occur anywhere in the body and can range from mild to very severe. Some types of chronic pain include:

  • Headache.

  • Low back pain.

  • Cancer pain.

  • Arthritis pain.

  • Neurogenic pain. This is pain resulting from damage to nerves.

 People with chronic pain may also have other symptoms such as:

  • Depression.

  • Anger.

  • Insomnia.

  • Anxiety.

DIAGNOSIS

Your health care provider will help diagnose your condition over time. In many cases, the initial focus will be on excluding possible conditions that could be causing the pain. Depending on your symptoms, your health care provider may order tests to diagnose your condition. Some of these tests may include:

  • Blood tests.  

  • CT scan.  

  • MRI.  

  • X-rays.  

  • Ultrasounds.  

  • Nerve conduction studies.  

You may need to see a specialist.

TREATMENT

Finding treatment that works well may take time. You may be referred to a pain specialist. He or she may prescribe medicine or therapies, such as:

  • Mindful meditation or yoga.

  • Shots (injections) of numbing or pain-relieving medicines into the spine or area of pain.

  • Local electrical stimulation.

  • Acupuncture.  

  • Massage therapy.  

  • Aroma, color, light, or sound therapy.  

  • Biofeedback.  

  • Working with a physical therapist to keep from getting stiff.  

  • Regular, gentle exercise.  

  • Cognitive or behavioral therapy.  

  • Group support.  

Sometimes, surgery may be recommended.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Take all medicines as directed by your health care provider.  

  • Lessen stress in your life by relaxing and doing things such as listening to calming music.  

  • Exercise or be active as directed by your health care provider.  

  • Eat a healthy diet and include things such as vegetables, fruits, fish, and lean meats in your diet.  

  • Keep all follow-up appointments with your health care provider.  

  • Attend a support group with others suffering from chronic pain.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your pain gets worse.  

  • You develop a new pain that was not there before.  

  • You cannot tolerate medicines given to you by your health care provider.  

  • You have new symptoms since your last visit with your health care provider.  

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You feel weak.  

  • You have decreased sensation or numbness.  

  • You lose control of bowel or bladder function.  

  • Your pain suddenly gets much worse.  

  • You develop shaking.

  • You develop chills.

  • You develop confusion.

  • You develop chest pain.

  • You develop shortness of breath.  

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.